Gone are the days when blogging was only an online diary, where bloggers would post about favorite meals and activities. Today, blogging has become an efficient tool to help startups and corporates promote their services and to have a higher chance of being covered in the media.
But far different from casual online diaries, corporate blogs have a distinct style and purpose. So what does it take to make your company’s blog more accessible, popular, and effective?
We chatted with the blog managers of Maptia, a platform and blog that allows users to create “inspirational maps” based on their experiences, and regional online job portals Bayt.com and Akhtaboot, who shared their tips for building a successful corporate blog: [Disclosure: Wamda Capital has invested in Akhtaboot.]
1) Post regularly. Visiting a blog that hasn’t been updated for months immediately makes you question the seriousness and credibility of a company. Make sure to post on a weekly basis at the very least to make the visitor come back for more. “On average, we post a minimum of four blogs a week,” says Reem Boudraa of Bayt.com. Maptia co-founder Jonny Miller says that they post two to three times per week, while Akhtaboot publishes regular series on selected days. “We usually post Tuesday Tips on the blog 4 times per month,” says Mais Gousous of Akhtaboot. “We also post 1 career article or news piece once per month.
2) People love advice. Tips and advice pieces always grab a user’s attention because they’re easily digestible and designed to empower a reader. Usually divided into easy lists or small paragraphs (like this post) advice pieces should always have a bit of a personal touch to make the tips more real. On Wamda, we often post lists, tips, and advice to bring quick value to readers. Bayt.com also posts regular career tips and advice in the workplace. Keep the advice and tips relevant to your corporate mission but valuable to your users to help you become known as a thought leader within your market.
3) Measure the effectiveness of your blog. Depending on your company’s goals, you should identify a few metrics to measure the popularity and impact of your corporate blog. There are several tools, like Google Analytics or Woopra, to help you rate your blog. Such tools can help you track the number of unique and returning visitors, incoming links, how many sign-ups you are getting and your position on a search engine results page (SERP). If you see spikes in interaction, perhaps users are responding to a specific type of content. Follow these trends and iterate to create content users want to read. [Disclosure: Wamda Capital has invested in Woopra.]
4) Focus on quality over quantity. Even though you should post regularly to keep your customers updated about your new services, spamming will turn users away. Not every subject is worth writing about. Bayt says “content should always be novel and truly genuine in every way; it should help the reader, add to his knowledge, be relevant to his needs and concerns, and keep the reader coming back for more.” Maptia adds that they choose “to focus more on producing higher quality content, less often, with the aim that it will be just as relevant 6 months from now as it is today.”
5) Use your home page and write on guest blogs. Corporate blogs are often found at the bottom of a page or somewhere that’s less visible, but Miller insists that more effectively “using the home page of your website is a good way to push the latest blog posts.” He also recommends writing on a guest blog and linking to your corporate blog “to generate traffic back to your blog.” Bayt also suggests using descriptive tags and including a ton of in-article links back to previous blog posts.
6) Never remove comments, respond calmly to any criticism. This is the worst mistake you can ever make. The internet has given users an unprecedented level of freedom of expression, so it’s only natural for some people to be outspoken about their opinions. Just like you welcome positive comments, welcome negative ones too – any sort of conversation is helpful for your posts. Censorship will discourage users to comment on your blog, even the positive ones, and if the comments remain negative, try to reply calmly and clarify your meaning to engage users. Of course profanity or very inappropriate comments are worth removing to keep your blog friendly for others.
7) “Create an editorial calendar and stick to it,” says Miller. Set up a specific number of posts for the month and do your best to meet that number. This will help you post more regularly and measure whether certain times or content types are better than others.
8) Focus on catchy titles. Make it bold, straight to the point and attractive. Use key words to make it SEO friendly, adds Bayt, and try to keep it short. Never reveal too much; let your readers want to click the piece to find out the full story. Since “80% of people only read your title,” as Miller admits, having a really appealing one can definitely change their minds.
9) Avoid promotional language. Nobody likes straight PR; speak the customer’s language. Use outside sources to back up your claims, and remember that people want to read something that helps or benefits them, not just about something cool you’re doing. So keep an eye on what your customers would like to read and make your content worth sharing. “Create sharing incentives – meaning not ‘oh that's cool’ but instead ‘I personally will benefit if I share this’,” Miller adds.
10) It’s not about the number of visitors. It’s about the number of engaged visitors. This is what Miller likes to call “vanity metrics;” the number of people visiting your blog plus the number of people interacting on it. What you want is an engaged community, not just one-time visitors. “Having an engaged community matters more in the long run”, he concludes. If you are looking to increase the engagement rate on your blog, Gousous says, you need to “make sure that you present your posts in an attractive way; images are more attractive than plain text for example. Create cool infographics and include them in your posts.” Bayt suggests using “high quality graphs, images and videos,” to increase your engagement rate.
11) Share everything. Remember that your blog’s success comes down to sharing. Social networks are king here; sharing every post on your social media channels will significantly increase your number of visitors as users usually won’t go straight to your blog to discover new stories. According to Bayt, social sharing is also a great way to entice your readers; “Attracting followers depends largely on building anticipation by announcing new content before it is published.”
We recently asked our audience whether companies should have their own blogs. Check out our audience’s answers here and share your opinion in the comments section below.